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2014, Let's Put a Hat On the Year

Well!  A new year has dawned upon us and 2013 didn't signify the end of the year, to varying levels of disappointment.  I've got black eyed peas cooking with too much ham and will probably post my 'recipe' of this cooking disaster experiment tomorrow.  My holidays were lovely, if unproductive, and I've been reading a lot lately.  Hopefully this will result in more reviews.   Today should result in laundry, but we'll find out if that happens.  First, a blog, about the past, the future, and sharks.

Actually, I lied.  There will be no sharks.

2013: No complaints in the health department here.  Well, trying to readjust to the high altitude and dry air has been playing bloody hell on my sinuses, but short of that, health has been fine.

For 2014: Should, in theory, have overly expensive and mostly useless health care in 2014.  I'm not happy about the cost of that, let me tell you.  BUT, at least I will (provided the health care companies actually send me stuff so that I can GET healthcare) have health care and can get a general check up in.  That will be good to get an official look at where I'm doing healthwise, because for all that I feel fine, I've got an awful paranoid voice in the back of my head that hisses that everything is cancerous and I'm going to keel over any second now.  It's not a loud voice, but getting an official checkup should shush the damn thing up.

2013: The bank account is down.  I'm not too happy with where the number is.  There's a number of reasons for this, moving isn't cheap and I continue to defy the idea of working full time again.  But, I've currently got a part time job that is paying me something closer to what I'm actually worth as an employee.  There are other problems with the job, but as a whole, I think it's going to work.

For 2014: We'll see how finances go.  I'm hoping I can stabilize things and maybe even store a little money away for the future.  There are many indicators that I can, but a couple of things weighing against me (yes, I'm looking at YOU health insurance).  It should be manageable, but I'll reassess finances later in 2014.  If things don't go well, I'll have to give up the part time bohemian life and go work a nine to five again.  Not the goal, but always an option.

2013: Sometimes, I don't even know why I have this category.  I never improve here, my social life is still the same, my actual love life is still the same.  And while I wouldn't mind making more friends, I'm not actually miserable or lonely.  Which is why this has never been an issue that I've pursued all that actively.  If things are not ideal, they are at least in a place I can be complacent of.

For 2014:
Honestly, right now what I really want out of my social life is to find a writing group.  I actually found one 2013, then promptly moved five states away.  Because that's always how this works.  So, if I've got a goal on the social front for 2014, it's to make some more writer friends, preferably in the area.  As ever, not sure how hard I'll pursue this, which is why it's not a resolution so much as a vague, questioning ideal.

I detailed the results of 2013 in detail at the start of my writing year, so I'll just use this to give a quick progress update on how December went on the writing front.  Aaaaand, well, it sucked.  I did not reach my goal of 30k.  I did not write consistently on any one thing, but prodded a few things and actually started a bunch of things, which was fun, but did not get me closer towards finishing anything.  Mostly, I spent December recalling that:

A) holidays seriously interfere with productivity and that's okay.  Don't stress, just accept that you will never get as much done as you want to during this month. Get done what you can and let what you don't get done slide in the name of Holiday Spirit.

B) I suck at writing during the winter.  This is one of those facts that I am generally aware of but never remember the depth of until winter actually hits.  I tend to get writer's block every winter and if it's not writer's block, it's a general malaise of Not Wanting To Do Shit.  I want to sit around play virtual petsites all day, not do things that are actually useful.  Everyone's always surprised when I mention this.  They think I would be MORE productive in the winter when its dark and I can't go outside.  And maybe this is true for other writers, but for me?  I'm less productive in the winter.  When it's nice outside and the craving to be outside hits, technology means I can just go outside and do writing, giving me both the nice weather AND space to write in.  So that's no barrier.  What is about the winter that means I'm less productive, I don't know.  But now that it's not December, I'm not letting it get the better of me.

Goal for January:
Get the read through of Cat that Wouldn't Die done this next month.

1) Learn how to write short stories
FAILED.  I really just need to stop making this a goal.  If I learn how to write short stories, it will not be because I'm trying.  It will just happen.  I'll turn around and realize that what I've written are, in fact, a number of short stories.  And then I'll have to figure out how publishing them works.  But you know, for now, shelving this as a goal.

2) Get my ass back in the internet eye
Mixed success!  I did in fact make a blog!  I've also been tweeting more and generally getting myself adjusted to the idea of being in the public eye.  Now, I really wanted to be blogging weekly all of last year and you can see that didn't happen.  Also, the cross posting never happened.  I really need to figure out the crossposting.

1) Keep up with the blogging
One blog post a week, for the rest of the year, probably minus November because November is a Busy Time.  Blog updates will either happen on Thursday or Sunday (because reasons), and I'm not holding myself to a set schedule beyond that.

2)  ....That's it actually
I don't really have any other resolutions for 2014.  I have discussed a number of goals and things I'm pursuing, but none of them really fall into the resolution category.  Largely because most of my goals are basically "Keep doing what you've been doing, only maybe a little harder?"  So, if anything, that's my resolution?

Welp, still haven't done laundry.  I'd best get on that.  And find some food while I'm at it.

May 2014 kick 2013's ass.  In a good way.


Welp, another year, another Nano. Let's get that graph up and be horribly embarrassed by my slacking---


...Huh. Oh. Well. I guess that's not embarrassing after all. In fact, it may even be nearing levels of respectable for a Nano graph. You'd think I'm getting better at this writing thing or something, wouldn't you?


More immediately, did I succeed in my goal of writing an entire novel in a month?

Nope, not even close! 50k this month, nearly 70k total and I am nowhere near the end. And surprisingly, I'm not terribly crushed or disappointed by this.

The reason being, it turns out that I'm not writing an 80k novel. Or even a 100k novel. Sure, I'm almost 70k into the novel, but unlike last year, I don't feel off track. The plot is moving forward slowly, but consistently. Unlike last year, where I dithered around for half of my Nano word count before I finally jumped into the plot, everything I've written has moved things forward and dropped useful information. Not to say that there isn't fat that will need trimming when it comes time to edit. Oh my yes, there will be stuff to trim. Internal exposition, repetitive descriptors, things that I took three hundred words to say that could be said much more neatly and clearly in about fifty. But that's what editing is for. And even with that excess baggage, I've still got a long novel on my hand.

Basically, this book is shaping up to be one of those sprawling fantasy epics with ridiculous amount of details in bizarre areas that is (I hope) interesting and involving anyway. Most people who know me well, when I mentioned this have responded with 'honestly I'm surprised you didn't write one of these sooner.' And it is true, I'm fond of that style of novel, so no surprise I'm writing one. With a lot of gay subtext.

My estimate at this point is somewhere around 120k worth of words before I hit the end. We'll see how soon I get that massive chunk of novel done, as it is not the only project I want to work on this year. I've got a novel I rather desperately want to get edited and other novels that paw at me for attention. But I've found that if I have a default project I'm supposed to be working on, things go better for my focus.

Things I Learned:

  • Everything I write is going to be longer than I think it is when I start. I just need to start accepting this about what I write. I write long things. Short things are not beyond my grasp, but they sure aren't what I tend towards naturally.

  • I'm not much pleased with my current job, but in spite of that, the work/life balance is not bad right now. The amount of hours I work and (more importantly) the times I work seem to produced a schedule that made Nano fairly easy this year. Not free of challenges or stress, but better than it has been. And this brings me to the next point...

  • Which is the big one. I have GOT to start writing more. I don't mean what I did last month, because that was fine. I mean in general. I'm not sure I can keep a Nano pace up all of the time, but my current standard is 750 words per day. And I can and will do better than that.

Which leads me to plans for the rest of the year. We're starting with a goal of a thousand word per day for the month of December, as I am, again, traveling and holidays and other craziness abounds. But I want a thousand words a day as a minimum, for all days when I'm not busy editing, because I need to keep that in my schedule. Also in my schedule, blogging more regularly, which may be the biggest challenge yet.

We'll see what happens. Until then, hope everyone had a good November and the rest of your writing year, whenever it starts, goes equally well.

Oh, and a heads up to everyone who reads my blog.  Most of my blogging activity has been taking place over here: http://megibbs.wordpress.com/

One of these days, I'll figure out how to make it crosspost without a headache, but as I have not yet, more blogs over there than on my LJ.
So, after a missed week, we finally have the Portland Bucket List!

A little bit of background on the situation. I've been living in Portland, OR for the last couple of years and been quite enjoying it. However, all things change and this summer, I'll be moving to Colorado. Because why not.

But before I leave Portland, I and my roommate want to revisit and visit for the first time some of the very best of Portland. Of course, this list is entirely subjective and covers the things I want to do. I'm sure other people would list an entirely different spectrum of wants out of Portland, but they can make their own bucket lists. The list is below, with some notes on what these things are and why they're important. I'll update as things get completed.

Oregon Zoo
Japanese Garden
Chinese Garden
The Portland Art Museum: I think I've been inside several times and I still, STILL do not think I've seen the whole museum.
Neighborhood Photos: This is more one of my roommate's choices. But Portland has some neat corners and architecture and I'm always happy to explore and look around while she has the camera out.
Voodoo Donuts: The notorious donut shop. I've had their delicious delicacies before, but not visited their shop personally. Planning to fix that.
Council Crest: The high point of Portland. Literally!
The 24 Hour Church of Elvis: Needs visiting. Do I really need to explain?
Powell's (downtown): Powell's is a beautiful bookstore and I want to spend one last trip browsing its massive shelves. You'll probably find me in the gold room.
Dinner at 2nd Story: One of my favorite restaurants in town, a little gem of a location in Southeast. http://www.2ndstorypdx.com/
Brunch at 2nd Story: And my favorite restaurants has recently started offering brunch. What could be more perfectly Portland?
Rose Garden: It is the rose city after all.
Write in a coffee shop: What? Isn't that every hipsters dream?
Coast: You will find little more dramatic than the Oregon coast.
Bridge Crossing: I made it my goal at one point to walk across every walkable bridge in Portland. That's a number of bridges.
Photograph St. John's Bridge: The only bridge I haven't crossed yet, and my roommate wants to spend some time with her camera on it.
Visit Seattle: This may get skipped, but Seattle is also a fantastic city and I'd like to visit before leaving the area.
Valley Train Ride: I may
Shanghai Tunnels: Did you know that there are tunnels under parts of Portland where drunk sailors were abducted and pressed into labor on strange boats in the 1890s? And now they do tours of them? YEAH, I KNOW RIGHT?
Columbia Gorge/Multnomah Falls: For all that I grew up in Oregon, I don't think I've ever visited the Columbia Gorge. So we'll be taking a trip to see the Gorge and Multnomah Falls therein.
Fruit Picking: There's a lot of pick your own farms in the area. There's a good chance that, as we get close to spring, I'll get a chance to visit and have some deliciously fresh produce.

Actually, we have completed one thing on the list, so I get to report already.

Burgerville Fresh Strawberry Shakes: Every year, in the spring, Bugerville (a local chain) has these amazing fresh strawberry shakes. They taste like a can of cream and a strawberry patch had a child and its beautiful, beautiful assault on nature.. Burgerville started selling the shakes just last week, so we stopped in to get one. Or several over the course of the week, as the case may be. The result... Not actually quite as good as we were hoping for. It's still early in the strawberry season, so the shakes aren't as good as they will be in a few more weeks.

But no worries. I'm sure there are more shakes in the future for me.

In Which Plans are Mutable

Plans. They never stay the same.

Last week, I said I was going to try and do the Portland Bucket List as my blog this week. That never happened and yesterday, while I was plotting what I would do on my quiet Friday, I remembered that “Shit, it’s a Friday, that means I’m supposed to blog! Damnit!” So the plan had to be revised. No Bucket List. What the hell was I going to write about?

We all make plans. Big grandiose plans about where we’re going to be in five, ten years and minor, immediate plans like what we’re going to have for dinner. Both kinds of plans get completely over turned by things we never saw coming. And sometimes things we totally should have seen coming and then didn’t. Like dinner. You plan to make yourself some nice pasta carbonara for dinner, use up the left over bacon from brunch the other day and then you open the fridge and realize that some asshole drank all the last of the milk that morning. Worst of all, you remember it was you, all along. Damnit, self, and your need to have milk with your cereal. And perhaps, more poignantly, damnit self for forgetting you drank all of the milk and not stopping at the store on the way home like you said you would when you drank the last of the milk that morning.

But it’s interesting the plans that don’t change. Sure, pasta carbonara is nixed, but you still need to eat dinner. Maybe you’ll even improvise spaghetti, so your plan didn’t even get out of the range of where you started. Or maybe it did. Maybe you didn’t cook anything, went out for sushi instead. The point is, you still got dinner, even when the perfect plan went completely haywire.

Big plans do this too. Only worse. Because it’s one thing to plan dinner for a night or even a week. But when you start planning into the future, you have no idea what’s going to happen. Everything changes in a week, in a day. How much more so in a year?

And it’s complicated even more so by the fact that when you start making your plans, you have no fucking clue what you’re actually getting yourself into. Or maybe you’re one of those smart people who comes up with an idea and then researches how it actually goes down so that when you start chasing your plan down, you know the shape of it and only a third of the surprises are actual surprises.

I’m not one of those people. Oh, I have some amount of foresight. I know to put money away for the future, I do my best to plan for dinner before I’m too hungry to implement anything, I can see that some decisions are terrible choices before I make them, and thus don’t. But when it comes to where I want to be in five, ten years? Yeah, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started on the path I’m stumbling down now.

I’m talking about my writing, which I will do a lot in this blog. I’m working on getting published, one step at a time, and have been since I was a sprog. And when I was about seventeen, I’ll admit that the first step in this process took me by surprise. That step being, “Well, write a book first.”

You never want to believe that all of the steps and the amount of time that people tell you this plan is going to take, is in fact the number of steps and amount of time this is actually going to take you. When I was seventeen, sure, I understood intellectually that I had to finish something before I could get anywhere near publishing it. But in my heart of hearts, I really wanted to believe that some publisher was just going to show up on my doorstep and give me money to write because I WAS THAT AWESOME.

Still hasn’t happened. I did eventually figure out, in my heart of hearts, that first step was, in fact, write a book. Then figured out that, yeah, you really have to edit the damn thing you wrote. Then figured out, yeah, you really have to edit it more than one time. Still working on that one, actually.

And don’t get me started on anything that comes after. This is an evolving, changing plan. Just like any other. The point is, I’m not where I thought I would be at seventeen or even where I thought I would be at twenty two. But the plan still hasn’t changed. Write stuff. Get published. Rinse and repeat. Figure out everything else as you go.

It’s a process. But it’s the only way to get anything, from your dream job to dinner each night.

And now, I should really go put pants on and see about getting milk. Because I’m not planning on making pasta carbonara, but if I want milk in my tea tomorrow morning, I need to exercise a little foresight here. Though I guess I could make pasta carbonara…

(The best part is, this blog was ALSO not planned. Totally had something else in mind last night when I had the realization of “Shit. Friday. Blogging.” And then did I did this instead…)

In Which I Get Around To Things

So, at the beginning of this year, one of my New Year resolutions was to blog every other week on something.

...You can see how well that has been going so far. So now that we're nearly a quarter through the year, I've revised this and now declared Friday Blog Day: The Day In Which I Blog.

I've got some things planned to talk about at a later date.

But as an opener, I will share some of the internet writing tools that I use or just think are awesome. Consider this a brief tool kit, things I keep stashed under my desk in a dented metal canister along with more string than you know what to do with, a hammer, and thumbtacks that never get used either because the landpeople would string you up by them for damaging the walls or because they're just really crappy thumbtacks and you can't, for the life of you, remember which it is.

Well, something like that anyway.

750 Words: This is one of the best tools I ever found. It challenges you to write 750 words every day and keeps track of which days you've succeeded and the length of your writing streak. If you join and fail the monthly challenge, there's a wall of shame for you, but otherwise there are no site repercussion for failing. Personally, I have a lot of Writer's Guilt. No matter what I do, it's never enough. But 750 gives me a goal to achieve every night. If I only hit the minimum, well, I'm not excelling. But I'm passing, at least, and that helps keep the judging voices in my head a little quieter. And you can get a lot done on just 750 words per day. That's roughly 22500 words per month and from there, it's not hard to push up to 25000, which is roughly a quarter to a third of a novel in a month. Three or four months of dedication, you might find yourself completing something in spite of yourself.

Zen Writer: Not free, though you can get a free trial. Creates a space for writing without lots of distractions. You can upload your own music too, if music is important to you. I know it is for me.

Storybook: Free noveling software. Helps track characters, plots, events, and places in your novel. I'll admit, I haven't used it much yet, but I like the look of it.

Leech Block: Add on for firefox. A useful tool if you have trouble focusing. Or if you are anything like me and will click through sixteen different sites, including the same site six of those clicks, instead of sitting down to do your writing, you may just find this add on useful. It will block all sites from access for however long you need. So if you have a night where you need to write, but find yourself obsessively checking webcomics instead, this addon helps. You can set up filters for sites that you can access, so if you do your writing on 750words.com, you're not doomed. You can also tell it to direct any errant clicks to a specific page. Mine is set to go here.

Seventh Sanctum: This one's just fun. It's a generator site, full of all kinds of generators. A good place to go for ideas and quick fixes. Need to name the weird piece of technology your scientist just invented? They've got a generator for that. Getting sick of referring to your evil organization as "The Bad Dudes?" They've got one for that too! Need foreign currency for your made up world? They're so on that. Completely fed up with your plot and need anything else to write about? Yup. They've still got you covered. Like I said, mostly just fun, but can be useful, especially on a brain dead day. I'm sure I'll mention these guys again.

That's all I think I've got for the moment, but I'll make an effort to mention new ones when I think of them.

Next Week: The Portland Bucket List, hopefully

In Which Another Year Has Passed

So 2012 didn't end in an apocalypse, maybe we'll have better luck for 2013!

...Wait a sec...

You would think I knew how to spell apocalypse by now...Collapse )

All things equal, I wish you all a happy New Year and that this one, 2013, will be the one where it all starts to come together.
Quick update to conclude Nano. Because I like to keep this in an entry of its own. I'll do my new year update tomorrow most likely, unless I am lazy.


Overall, pretty satisfied with my Nano results. I was giving myself a most amazing amount of crap over them, then I went and compared them to other years graphs. And. Well. Hm. Sure, I'm never over the required line, but I'm never far behind it either.

What I learned:
When you know where a novel starts, stop dithering around and start the damn thing. Also, sequels are weird. I will probably get better with time, however.


General life update: Found a part time job in early July. It's not much, it's a bit of a blah job, but it covers most of my expenses while still giving me time to write. So it will do for now. The important updates are happening in the writing.

Novel updates:
Trask Novel #1
Hit second draft. Still needs polished, but wow, I actually managed to get an entire draft of editing done. Also, all of my worries about length proved to be unnecessary. It is now 93117 words long, which means I added an entire third

The Cat That Wouldn't Die
Next one up for the big re-read and edit. Very fond of this one, I feel pretty hopeful on this one's quality. Well, not the quality of THIS draft, which is terrible, but that future drafts will be worth something. Unlike Trask, I have a lot more words than I need to, so the final product should be shorter than the first draft

Short Stories:
Tortoise Wife
This one is actually on a deadline for submissions. Completely written, but it needs a good polish before I send it anywhere.

I can't write short stories, by the way. I'm terrible at it. I keep putting down too many words!

This one is currently in hiatus. I think that to make it work at all, its going to take a lot more thought and a lot more words. May even be a novel sort of story to be worth reading. But since this one is rather self indulgent anyway, I don't mind putting it on hold until I figure out what, if anything, I'm doing with it.

Object Lesson
If I don't have this one done by the next writing update, you may shoot me in the foot. Well, maybe only the toe...

nameless vampire novella
Must work on this one again. More serious than a lot of what I write, but man, it has a charm to writing it. Will also try and have this one done next time I update writing, but might not. Long stretches go between me writing on this one.

Next Projects?
Draft three of Trask#1, start the read through of the Cat#1, figure out which novel I want to focus on next (this is proving hard), finish some of these misc stories that are fluttering around.

Jun. 7th, 2012

Things I googled while writing today:

fear of bridges (which is called gephyrophobia, in case you were wondering)
youtube (I had the urge to listen to some Imogene Heap)
sewage systems underground (and then I got distracted by the resulting photos. Japanese sewer systems. Who knew!)
sewage systems underground large cities
fire hydrant water pressure
liminal (Double checking the spelling)
limen (to see if that's a word we use)

Jun. 5th, 2012

Today's writing related google search:

floral wallpaper
shades of pink
wallpaper pink

And then I had to open Photoshop to double check how much varying shades clash with red.

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